1 Kings 11:1-13: Disobedience and Trouble
It seems strange that when the people had been so often commanded to worship and obey the Lord, and when they had received such blessings from Him, they should disobey Him and worship idols! And yet it is often the same with us. The children of Israel had been especially commanded that they should not marry with the native people of the land of Canaan, but should keep apart from them and from their evil worship. (Exod. 34:11-16; Deut. 7:1-5) The Zidonians lived in Zidon, or Sidon, the sister city of Tyre. They worshiped Baal the sun god, and Ashtoreth a goddess connected with the planet Venus. There were many evil things in this worship. The Ammonites, we remember, lived to the east in the country beyond Jordan. Milcom or Molech was their idol, and in this worship children were offered as sacrifices in the fire. (2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:31) Moab was the nation close to the Dead Sea on its eastern side. Chemosh was worshiped in Moab and in other neighboring countries.
Solomon disobeyed the Lord and married wives from these nations round about and, as the Lord had said, they turned away his heart. The king built places for the worship of these idols "in the hill that is before Jerusalem," the Mount of Olives. The warning that had been given would come true. (1 Kings 9:1-9) The kingdom would be taken away. Still it would not happen in Solomon's lifetime, but in the days of his son, and it would not be wholly taken away, but one part of the land would remain, the southern part, the tribe of Judah, with Benjamin which was at this time often counted as a part of Judah.
When people are not faithful to the Lord and do not obey Him, He cannot protect them from their enemies. So enemies rose up against Solomon when he was disobedient. One enemy was Hadad the Edomite. Where was Edom? When that country was conquered by David and Joab (2 Sam. 8:14), Hadad, a prince of Edom, had fled and found safety in Egypt. When David and Joab were dead, Hadad returned and began to "do mischief" against Israel, though it seems to have been some years before he seriously disturbed the peace of Solomon's kingdom. Another enemy who sprang up against Solomon was Rezon the Syrian. He had been a servant of Hadadezer, the king of Zobah in the far northwest. When David conquered Zobah and the country of Hadadezer as far as the Euphrates River (2 Sam. 8:3-5), this Rezon found a home in Damascus and grew strong there. These were the enemies who rose up against Solomon outside the land of Israel.
More serious trouble arose at home, in the land of Israel itself and in Jerusalem. Jeroboam was the leader of the rebellion. This man was employed in Solomon's work in Jerusalem, in the building of the fort Millo and other defenses of the city. We have learned that Solomon made a levy of men from all the tribes, to do his building. (1 Kings 5:13-18) Jeroboam was over the men of the house of Joseph, which means especially the tribe of Ephraim, to which probably Jeroboam belonged. (The Revised Version in verse 26, reads Ephraimite instead of Ephrathite.) See Rev. 7:8, where the tribe of Ephraim is called by the name of his father Joseph. Jeroboam was "a mighty man of valor" and "industrious"; but afterward Solomon feared Jeroboam and would have killed him had he not fled to Egypt for safety.
It was because Jeroboam hoped himself to be king, and the hope was strengthened by the words of Ahijah the prophet from Shiloh, and by a sign which Ahijah gave. The prophet said to Jeroboam, "Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and I will give ten tribes to thee." And as a sign the prophet rent his robe into twelve pieces and gave ten to Jeroboam. Do you remember a sign like this when Samuel told Saul that the kingdom would be taken from him? (1 Sam. 15:27-28) But the kingdom would not be safe in Jeroboam's hands any more than it was in Solomon's, unless he faithfully obeyed the Lord.
1. On what condition was Solomon to keep his power and glory? In what way did he disobey the Lord?
2. What two enemies rose against him outside of Israel? What enemy rose against him in his own land and city?
3. Who was Jeroboam? What did Ahijah the prophet tell him? What sign did he give him?
4. Why does disobedience to the Lord bring trouble?
The command to the children of Israel not to marry with the native people of the land teaches the duty of those who are trying to lead a heavenly life, to shun the evil and false things which those nations represent. Trouble is sure to come if natural evil pleasure wins the heart, and one turns the Lord's truth from its true meaning, to excuse and justify evil. This is especially represented by the people of Israel marrying strange wives and being led by them away from the worship of the Lord. (E. 141; A. 9193)
When we think of Solomon as a type of the Lord, this that is told of him represents something beautiful and holy in the Lord's life. It means that the Lord loves all people and accepts whatever there is of holiness (700) or of truth (300) in every people or religion, as belonging to His church. (A. 3246; P. 245)
It is said that the Lord stirred up enemies against Solomon. It seemed as if the Lord did this, and it often seems as if He sent punishments. This is not really so. The Lord always is trying to protect us and to do us good. The punishments come from the evil things into which we fall when we turn away from the Lord. He cannot protect us from them when we disobey Him, for His commandments teach the only safe ways. (A. 2768, 6997; P. 251)
Those who have studied the meaning of the nations which were neighbors of Israel will know that Edom here represents what is evil, and Syria what is false; both of which rise up as enemies. Notice also that it is said that the Lord (Jehovah) stirred up the Edomite; and that God stirred up the Syrian. The name Jehovah is used when the will and love are spoken of, and the name God when speaking of truth and understanding. (A. 2001, 3322; E. 559)
Garments represent the forms of thought and speech and conduct which clothe one's life to others. The prophet's garment especially represents the Lord's truth in which He is revealed to us. It is this truth, when we receive and obey it, that makes us kings and enables us to rule our little kingdom in order and strength. This is why on two occasions the rending of the prophet's garment was made a sign of the rending of the kingdom. The Lord's truth is disregarded, disobeyed, and our kingdom cannot stand. (A. 4763; E. 395)
"The book of the acts of Solomon" is mentioned in verse 41. 2 Chron. 9:29 gives the names of some who kept such records.